Students concerned about voter ID

College students from throughout the state gathered at the University of Minnesota today to speak out against the voter ID constitutional amendment.

Students from public and private schools, along with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, shared said they were concerned the proposed requirement would make it harder for them to vote. Voter ID supporters contend the measure is needed to help prevent voter fraud. But Taylor Williams, student government president at the U of M, said he doesn't believe there is any voter fraud. Williams also doesn't want the cost of implementing a new voting system to divert funds from colleges and universities.

"We are a better investment than this law," Williams said. "As a state, we have to ask ourselves whether it is worth spending so much money at a time when we've never needed it more on higher education on a solution that solves a problem that doesn't exist."

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The proposed amendment would require all voters to present a government-issued photo identification to receive a ballot. Alex Kopel, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, said she's concerned that she will no longer be able to use her private college student ID to prove her identity for voting.

"This amendment takes our simple and effective system and makes complicated and confusing changes for students all across Minnesota," Kopel said.

A key voter ID advocate said the students were making faulty claims. Dan McGrath, chairman of the pro-amendment campaign organization Protect My Vote, said there's no reason to believe the requirement will divert money from higher education. McGrath also said college students will still be able to prove their identity with a drivers license, and prove their residency with fee statements, housing lists or other documents listed in current law.

Specifics of what constitutes an acceptable government-issued ID would have to be spelled out by the next Legislature of voters approve the ID requirement.

"The objections from people that think that students will have more difficulty voting are completely false," McGrath said.